Chapter Sixty One
Lunch over, Janah says, "I have a few administrative matters to sign off on, then we can walk home."
Rain threatens, no drops yet. Maybe they'll make it through gung fu without having to continue inside. We used to practice in the rain, there was no place else. It was muddy and grimy, all it really accomplished was a lot of extra washing. Janah did away with that and we built a second floor over the meditation hall, covered it with martial arts mats, two inch rubber cushion, developed to allow our shoes to twist and spin without friction. It's hard enough to retain its firm surface, not so hard that banging down on it causes an injury. We have the same mats in our exercise room at the apartment.
Janah and I change back into street clothes. We retain a room at the temple although we seldom spend nights here. Still, we need a small space to keep robes and my practice uniforms, shower and take care of personal necessities. On the way out Janah tells Master Kaiser we’ll return tomorrow and we hit the street.
"Did you get a chance to connect with Chan?"
Janah, "No, my sense of Disciple Lee is she is not temperamentally suited to advanced qi skills. I know she's working at it on her own time and she may develop. It's too soon to bring in a heavyweight. I suspect she's more like Nikko, superior proprioceptive skills and reflexes, but Nikko isn't a qi student either."
"Maybe I can think of something she can work on to build on her strengths. I don't want to discourage her qi efforts, we talked of it briefly and I said the same thing about temperament. It's okay to go in a different direction. Now that she's been given permission, instruction, to let loose her talent, she may drop it on her own."
We're home in twenty, our business girls still out, I hear Amaya and Chloe reading lines for the movie. Janah and I go to our room, deconstruct and refresh. I take a shower, Janah hops in with me and we wash hair and play hide the soap, dry and dry hair. Janah sits at her desk and takes on a stack of e-mails and texts.
I slip on a t-shirt and decide to see what Eloise is up to.
She's fitting chips on the same piece of plastic I'd seen her working on earlier in the week.
Eloise, "Yes, this should do it. It's a little slower than I'd prefer, but it should still crack most codes in ten seconds or less."
She looks up from her project, eyes wander down from my face to my legs, her glasses slip down her nose, she pushes them up and looks at me. The sprite climbs off her stool and leans against the workbench.
"Take off my shorts."
Ah hah, this could lead to...., I kneel pull down the miniscule fabric, slide them down her legs and she steps out of them...oooh, so smooth, so....bare.
"You can make me feel good if you want."
I want, and do, so delectably dainty. She must have been thinking licentious thoughts even before I showed up, I'm only at her a matter of minutes until she quivers and sighs.
"So nice, I was in need of relief, silicon gets me steamy. Usually Daria takes care of me, I'm really glad you showed up, I was about to do myself. You’re a better alternative," she gives me a lingering kiss, sweet tiny tongue explores mine.
"I'm glad I showed up too, call anytime, you have my number."
Eloise giggles, "I need to wrap this, near tea time I think."
So it is, I hop downstairs and start the engines, find crackers and cheese and set them out, add cookies for girls in a sweet frame of mind. Big pot of green, smaller one of black, cane sugar, Splenda, agave, the additives of choice.
"Tea time ladies."
Chloe, "Thank goodness, my brain is fried with script, are Nikko and the others home?"
"Dasha mentaled me, coming into Chapmans now, today I decided the dining table will do, our property managers are in skirts and heels."
Janah comes down the steps, smiles, Nice of you to help Eloise relax.
She was wound up, maybe silicon does make her hot. Whatever it was worked out well for me, she’s a tasty tidbit.
I glance at Chloe, she's grinning at me, she doesn't know what exactly, but she can tell I'd done something intimate with somebody. This is not the House of Secrets. Eloise makes is obvious, she comes in and hops into my arms and gives me a lovely tongue swap, then slides off and sits for tea, one small long fingered hand slides up the inside of my thigh, a quick swipe you know where. The shirt's long enough the others didn't catch the swipe part, biting my lower lip may have given me away.
Amaya, "No nasty girls at tea, try to have a semblance of civilization."
Shy smile, Eloise sips tea, pushes her ever sliding glasses back up her nose.
Chapter Sixty Two
Dasha, "We make gud beezness today, new client for us, one million feet."
Amaya, "How's that translate into fees?"
Nikko, "If the building is eighty percent occupied, it's around forty five million a year. Dasha is using the rentable square foot number, which doesn't include common areas, hallways, lobby, elevators. We charge five percent, two and a quarter million."
Amaya, "How much does that translate as profit for Murakami Sylk?"
Nikko, "After everything, we make between fifteen and twenty five percent. Average twenty, so four hundred thousand. Getting the place to ninety five percent occupied earns us an additional one hundred thousand net. The net increase isn't that large, but it keeps the owner happy and we keep the contract year after year. Over time that extra one hundred adds up. The reputation value is almost more important. We got this client because another client's occupancy went from seventy five percent to ninety three after they hired us."
Chloe, "We own property and we manage other people's buildings. Do they worry that we will put people in our stuff first?"
Nikko, "Sure. If it comes up, I show them our occupancy, which runs to ninety five almost everywhere. There's no reason to ruin our reputation for a couple more tenants. We also have a contract that says we will not allow any current tenant of theirs to relocate to our property and if an inquiry comes in for their property, we don't show our space under any circumstances. We've been around long enough that the real estate community knows we don't poach. Our rep is stellar on that. We won't move a tenant of one owner to another building under our management without the current owner's agreement. Usually it's a cost issue, the current owner gets a chance to lower the rent if he wishes. We advise them to do it sometimes, other times we suggest they keep the current rates because we believe we can replace the lost tenant. We've even moved our tenants to buildings we only manage. That's usually a location issue, it's better for the tenant to be in a different spot."
Chloe, "Gee, lots of complexities."
Zi, "Plus rents change all the time. We're big enough that there is always a lease ending in either our property or one of the managed properties, negotiations are perpetual."
"Glad you guys like doing it. I would likely sell everything and stick it in the markets."
Nikko, "It's a temptation some days. We have good relations with owners and tenants, they appreciate what we do and we employ people. We lose that with only stock and bond investment. Now, we're in property management in San Francisco and buying up land in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. Speaking of which, we're going to see the land, then to San Francisco while Amaya and Chloe are in Los Angeles. Dasha and Daria will fly from San Francisco, what date do you need them in Los Angeles?"
Amaya taps her phone, "Two weeks from Saturday. We're staying at Shutters, but a standard room. We aren't going to be around enough to justify suites."
Nikko, "Zi will call Blue Sky and get us routed. We'll do two land parcels a day, then on to San Francisco. Amaya, will you get them a room? They should just return with you and Chloe when you're done. I'll get them to LA and arrange a car to take them to Shutters."
Amaya, "Will do."
We use Blue Sky to fly, needs only four hours notice, a concierge if we need one, we originally put up a quarter million, they take their rates out of that. When we ran through that, we'd had great service, so she went with a million up front. If we are on Society work, we use its Blue Sky account. Business flights are charged to one of the Murakami Sylk entities, which is deductible. Besides our owned property, there is Murakami Sylk Management, and since we started self financing Amaya's movies we created Murakami Sylk Films.
"Do we need another Murakami Sylk for the land?"
Nikko, "All our buildings are separate companies under the Murakami Sylk umbrella. If one building has a catastrophe, none of our other stuff is affected. I've set up Murakami Sylk Land for this new venture. Ultra Violet is a separate company, Down Home is a separate company from that. Those are owned by D&D Food Services, subsidiary of Murakami Sylk Enterprises, the holding company for everything. All net revenue flows up to MSE. Everyone here is an owner in varying percentages primarily based on the length of time you've been in the family. That will change as time goes by, ultimately we will all be equal partners. That only changes if you leave the family. Obviously you keep the money you've accumulated and any income of your own, like Amaya's books or Chloe's modeling. You will cease to be an owner and you will be paid the book value of the shares at that time."
Eloise leans over to me and whispers, "Am I included in this?"
I smile, "Of course. It was part of the agreements you signed when you joined us, the confidentiality stuff, a description of your job so we could salary you, your medical benefits."
Eloise, "Oh, I didn't read it."
"Nikko will explain all of it to you later."
Eloise, "I thought I just made my salary, I mean, I don't pay rent or anything. I don't even spend much money, Amaya brings me clothes, buys makeup and stuff."
Nikko looks at me, "Some confusion?"
"Eloise isn't clear on her participation. I told her you'd bring her up to speed later."
Dasha, "You are reech girl now, many million, but you can no get anyway fat and lazy or Eemaya will make beeg dramatics."
Eloise looks up at me, tears in her eyes, "Thank you," she stares down at her teacup, "thank you all."
Chapter Sixty Three
Everyone is off to their rooms, just Nikko, Janah and I around the kitchen table, Nikko says, "I felt rather stupid. Didn't ask Eloise if she'd actually read the agreements. She took them to her room and returned them the next morning."
Janah, "Well, you've covered it with her now. She's so precise with her machinery, I would have made the same assumption. Note that I didn't ask you or her about it either."
"Neither did I obviously, nor did anyone else."
Nikko, "Still felt bad letting her get hit on the head like that. It wasn't bad news, just the opposite, but still. Anyway, as you say, it's taken care of now. When I talked to her, she was genuinely happy, said she'd never thought of having so much money."
"I'm horrible at keeping up, what is her end currently?"
"Five million. The accounts are set up individually for most, multiple owners for the three of us, another for Dasha and Daria. Now that the family had solidified, new earnings are split equally. Earnings are divided by ten, the tenth partner is the Sylk Trust."
"Out of curiosity, what happens if we add another person?"
"I tossed it around in my head, I think it depends on circumstances. For instance, we got a fair amount of money from the Russian when we took the twins. They got a lump of that. Eloise wasn't a rescue, Amaya's parents had some money, nothing like the Russian. Chloe's father had a farm but not much else. Chloe and Amaya got that money for a jump start. Zi joined us as a monk, she got added as a partner when we formed Murakami Sylk Enterprises. That wasn't until she'd been here a couple of years. Up until then, we didn't have the others and we hadn't inherited all the property we ultimately wound up with."
Janah, "Everyone participates in Society work, and everyone adds knowledge and labor to the family businesses. Seems fair to me. Nobody is shy money, we can't spend what we have if we never earned anything on it. On top of which you've expanded the management company to a mega enterprise. What have you decided on property sales? We sold some, considering anything else?"
"We sold off a hundred million, did it in three pieces, didn't raise any eyebrows around town. Sales were reported in the real estate section. Of course the local real estate world was aware, but sales happen all the time. Tenants asked of course, but the new owners retained us as management, so, for tenants, nothing really happened, they have a lease, they see the same faces. The market has improved substantially, rents are higher on new leases, but that would have happened if we still owned the buildings."
Janah, "And the money went to expansion in San Francisco and to buy raw land out west."
Nikko, "Yes, we didn't spend nearly all of it. We lease space in San Francisco, I want to learn the market before I think over buying anything. The raw land total will be under twenty million. Right now, except for the lease, office furniture, computers and labor, we still have the bulk of the hundred in short term Treasuries."
"You have to manage all those accounts?"
Nikko, "There aren't that many. Ownership is on paper, all the stock and bond money is either in Murakami Sylk Enterprises or the Sylk Trust. All the real estate is in MSE except the schools, those are Sylk Trust. The only cash family members receive are monthly salaries. Amaya has her own earnings, as does Chloe, but they add that to their regular account. Everyone has shares of MSE stock, earnings just accumulate, raising the book value of the stock."
"Don't tell Amaya we have a spare eighty million sitting around, we'll all have new wardrobes."
Nikko stares at me, I say, "What?"
"You really pay no attention to the business end do you?"
"I prefer to cook and clean."
"Amaya buys all our clothes now."
"I know that."
"Yes, but you apparently don't know, it's all her money. She's never charged any of us anything."
"Get out of town clown!"
"Not a cent. Not to Chloe, the twins, Eloise, Zi or the three of us."
Nikko, "I asked her about it, she adopted Dasha speak, 'Do no make ridiculous Nishiko, I haf millions because of fahmahley. Also besides, I make shopping so fahmahley ees no fashion training wreck.'"
Janah and I laugh, "Pretty much spot on."
Chapter Sixty Four XII
Time for girls to head west, a car arrives, Angelo driving, he takes the six travelers Teterboro for two flights, one to LA for Chloe and Amaya, another to Colorado Springs for Nikko, Zi and the twins. They'll fly to Santa Fe this afternoon, then to Flagstaff Arizona. They'll spend the night there, check out the Flagstaff property tomorrow morning, then to someplace called Empire Nevada for the last parcel.
Nikko's already done the homework, corresponding property prices, recent sales, we Google Earthed all of it. She just wants to walk on the dirt, double check utility access. It's just land now, all of it has development potential, or we can lease some for grazing. We haven't decided what to do with it but none of it is restricted in any way. If we were so inclined we could build a subdivision, for instance, or another ranch for our growing collection of orphaned kids, or a cabin to hang out in, or a hotel. A subdivision or hotel is actually out of the question, we have no experience in either.
After the inspection in Empire, they fly to San Francisco to visit our west coast management operation.
San Francisco has two Shaolin temples, but they aren't like ours. They are a blend of gung fu training and a touch of Buddhism. Students don't live there, don't do academics there, it isn't a way of daily life. There are, however, people who have day jobs in accounting, MBAs, and who are anxious to be a part of Murakami Sylk. We pay well, we cover all medical and dental, we have day care. There was no shortage of applicants and they wasted no time setting up shop. We started with management contracts in place. The whole idea came about when an owner in New York asked us about managing his building in San Francisco. The property is large enough to justify the start up expense. Nikko put a small team in place, brought them to New York for training. Since then, she’s added staff and properties. In San Francisco, it doesn't hurt that Nikko is Japanese and Zi is Chinese. Half our staff is Asian as well. Currently, they manage a few million square feet, our rep is spreading, Nikko is out there in part to introduce Daria and Dasha and in part to expand staff and office space.
Janah, Eloise, and I realize we're two weeks here alone, the place seems gigantic without all the women around.
Janah, "Gee, it's deathly quiet. At least Nikko and Zi will be back in two weeks."
"I hadn't realized how accustomed I am to having all my pals in one spot. I must be codependent, or maybe just dependent, I can't speak for the others dependencies."
"Let's have late breakfast at the diner, then walk to the temple, come along Eloise. Since we're in a temp new environment, you can get out of the house."
Eloise, "I'd like that. Daria showed me an article about getting stuck, like when an idea won't gel, how it helps to walk away from it for a while. It also said different perspectives generate new ideas, kind of what happens in Canada."
It's the very early spring, still chilly, but the snow is gone and the sky is only slightly overcast today. Mercifully there's no blasting wind.
Chuck, "Hey girls, everyone else at work?"
"Amaya and Chloe are in LA, Nikko, Zi and the twins are in San Francisco. All of them are making us money, we decided to come here and spend some of it."
Chuck, "You can't spend it here. Since Dasha made us an in spot, and you guys fronting the money for our expansion a coupla years ago, meals are free."
"Guess I'll have to buy something from Juju then."
Mini comes over, "Chuck said everyone is out of town, what's doing?"
"Amaya and Chloe are making the next movie, the others are in San Francisco doing real estate deals," I skip over the part about buying land, "Dasha and Daria go to LA in two weeks, they have parts in the movie, be back two weeks after that, Nikko and Zi come home when the twins go to LA."
Mini, "You guys ever let up?"
"Not much. Nikko keeps getting business offers, she has to pursue them, she's Japanese, it's genetic."
Janah, "Business is good? Over half full at quarter to ten."
Mini, "Yeah, still extra busy on Friday for the hot lunch specials."
"Dasha misses it, but Nikko needs more help than just Zi. Daria has the brain for business, Dasha is the quirky personality."
Mini, "How's she do, with that accent?"
"She tones it down, enough to be cute but easily understood. Amaya worked with them when they came here to help. Dasha can speak the Queen's English when she wants to, Daria retains only the mildest accent, they wanted to become American girls, Belarus and Russia were lousy memories."
Mini, "You know, in all this time, I never asked their last name."
"We got rid of their last name, for documentation purposes, it's Sylk. Daria wanted Chloe's last name, Dasha didn't care."
Mini, "Lotta Ds, Daphne, Dasha, Daria, you slipped in Chloe."
"Chloe chose her name, the twins had no reason to change their first names, they dropped into the US from Mars as far as anyone knows. Nobody in the states had ever seen them...well, nobody who's alive anyway."
Mini grins, "Good to keep things tidy, gotta go, see you later."
Mini knows the generalities of what we do, he's the only one outside the temple and our family that knows about Shadows. He'll never say squat to anyone else, his time in prison taught him the value of silence. In his case, sort of noisy silence, background thunder he makes in the kitchen.
Janah, "Hike to the temple?"
Off we go, it isn't but a mile or so, we're there in fifteen. Janah heads to her office, I take Eloise to the gardens, we walk past the training grounds.
Eloise, "The young ones are cute in their uniforms, so serious."
"Yes, they mimic the older ones, practice is serious, study is serious, meditation is serious, they get their share of play in between. They have video games, the internet, no television, but the net makes TV obsolete anyway. We have TV, but it's reserved for events, they like the Super Bowl, World Series, college playoffs. We want them to understand the outside world, it's not sixteenth century China anymore. They go on field trips to the Met, MOMA, odds and ends, the Circle Lines cruise around Manhattan is a favorite, but I think it's mostly for the ice cream."
Manolo, "Master Sylk, Eloise, welcome. We don't see enough of Eloise, too busy with her drones."
"You know, I hadn't thought of it. Maybe she could bring one and let the kids work it. Eloise, can you make a couple without the extras? Just to fly?"
"Sure, a week or two, probably need more than one."
Janah tunes in, Should have thought of that earlier.
Better now than never.
Manolo, "Wow! I want to try it."
David Li emerges from the lab, "Master Sylk, Eloise, a nice surprise. Eloise, would you like to see the lab, it's not your tech workshop, but we have our own kind of hardware."
Eloise brightens, looks at me, "It's okay?"
"Of course, like your computers and servers, things are hot in places, pay attention, I'm going to observe gung fu, come down for lunch at one."
They go off to study distillation vats, Bunsen burners and, the lab's computer tech. I make a quick change in our room to a training uniform, hustle out to join the training.
We're doing kuen, Dragon, Tiger, Snake, Leopard, Crane. Soft gung fu is in the morning, sparring and weapons in the afternoon. We practice until twelve thirty, half hour to clean up, lunch is at one.